We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to one of our Honorable mention winners for our “Cambodia Remote Hideout Huts” competition – Matteo Dalat, Léa Simonet and Hugo Marie from France!

Architecture Competition Cambodia Remote Hideout Huts Honorable mention – ENSA NANTES

Matteo Dalat, Léa Simonet and Hugo Marie from France

We are currently third-year students at the National School of Architecture in Nantes. Our trinomial was formed one year ago as part of a project option focusing on architecture in "extreme situations". This group work pleased us a lot and made us understand that we could complement each other in our work. For this reason, we wanted to repeat the experience by participating in an architectural competition.

Brief information about the projects that you/your company have been involved with. For instance, what scale have you focused on/preferred, any significant projects where the company/individuals have been involved?

During our educational background studies, we had to work on projects of different scales, such as individual housing, mixed housing, collective housing, and even projects at the urban scale. Most of them were part of Western culture and tried to address issues of density, urban sprawl, or programmatic diversity. The project that united us was a utopian agricultural city project in Iceland. This allowed us to immerse ourselves in a new culture and new ways of living while adapting to environmental issues in a sensitive and poetic way.

What does architecture mean to you and what is the role of an architect in your society?

Architecture for us is a practice that is capable of changing our relationship with the environment. Between scholarly practice and rudimentary construction, this is a field so vast that it is easy to get lost in it. Our architecture aims to be simple in its implementation but rich in its values. Given the environmental crisis, it is essential for us to return to local materials, with a sustainable vision of architecture. Advocating low-tech, while fine-tuning the details and quality of each work, allows new models of architecture to be created. If we offer other forms of housing, it is above all to reconnect people with those around them, to make them aware of the richness of their land and their culture. In a world where everything is moving towards unification, we participate in the conservation of each subculture. Between contemporary architecture and vernacular constructions, we offer new architectures to reconnect with the essential and respond to both climatic and social challenges.

It is this point of view that, in our opinion, new architects must adopt. Take a step back from what you are taught and manage to include the environmental factor in the same way as the others. Far from ignoring the context, imposing the same operating mode on each site or even using materials produced in another country, the architect must be aware of his choices. It is a must to find new solutions for building while limiting the impact on the environment and integrating the long-term vision into buildings. This is why we believe that youth has its place in the world of architecture, and what can be seen as lack of experience is also the possibility of renewing the way of conceiving a project.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

Participating in architectural competitions is an opportunity for us to challenge ourselves and develop our cultural and constructive knowledge. This enables us to get out of the educational and cultural framework in which we are, to give free rein to freer architecture. Immersing ourselves in a new culture also means discovering new materials and new construction methods that we seek to rework each time in order to find new forms. Architectural competitions also represent the possibility to compete with international students and architectural firms.

What advice would you give to individuals who struggle to decide whether it would be beneficial for them to participate in architecture competitions?

Cambodia is a country with a rich history and important values for its people. Thus, participating in this competition allowed us to become fully familiar with their culture both in the production of goods and at the spiritual level, in order to bring sensitivity and know-how to a country with unusual climatic conditions. It is also an opportunity to deal concretely with a project on several scales, from its implementation in the environment to the way you inhabit it, including the poetry it evokes. Technically, the competition allows us to develop the smallest details of a project, to learn about the materials, their resistance and their implementation, and also to forge our own culture through extensive documentation. Taking on this challenge as a team helped us to learn more from each other and to confront our ideas and our vision of architecture; to bring our personality to a project intended to be lived.

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